Monday, 16 March 2015

Great White

March 14th - I was sitting at my parents' house having taken the children over for a visit, when I got a text from Alan S saying 'Great White Egret on spit'.  This was just before 3pm.  This was a patch tick for everybody and possibly a patch first, although one was reported to me a couple of years back, which sounded convincing, but was never submitted or seen by anyone other the observer.  This was too good to miss and luckily my parents are only about 20 minutes or so drive from the lake, so shortly later I set off.  I had no bins or camera on me, but the scope was in the boot, so I duly arrived at the car park and scampered off with just a scope.

Alan S, Mick M and Jim R had been working on site this afternoon, cutting back overhanging branches for the lakeside reed beds.  Apparently, Mick had seen the egret and with no optics had assumed it was a year tick Little.  However, Alan used his bins and could see that it was actually a Great White.  All three had just bins, though Jim also had his camera with him and was able to take some reasonable record shots.

As I was nearing the lake, Alan phoned me to say that all the gulls had gone up and so had the egret, but Mick had said it was now on the north bank, so I went straight to the viewpoint to scope the white blob on the north bank  It was actually a large plastic bag! Aghh, where was the egret! Luckily it was almost immediately relocated standing towards the top of the trees on the heronry.  I scoped it and had my patch tick - get in!  I could see that one of its legs had two colour rings on it, orange over red just above the knee.  Suddenly it took off and did a little circuit around the island, but then descended and landed on the back of the spit.  From here, the views were a little distant, but reasonable.  I could now see that it had colour rings on the other leg too, but these looked quite grubby and were difficult to ascertain.  It was dark greenish blue over yellow - this was the right leg.

The colour rings correspond to a French ringing scheme, so I have sent the details off, but with a bit of uncertainty over the green/blue colour, I wonder what the outcome will be.

I continued to watch the egret for about half an hour, during which time about a further five people came to watch it, but then returned to my parents to collect the children.  A predicted bird, which is becoming ever more frequent and now joins Cattle Egret and Spoonbill as exotics that have been in the heronry over the past 12 months - what next?

Jim's record shot is here:

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